State Department Tweet Calls Taiwan ‘Chinese Taipei,’ Using China-Approved Term

A soldier from one of Taiwan's elite special operation units, salutes atop a military truck as it passes through Taipei's presidential office square 10 October 2007 during the first military parade in 16 years. Taiwan flexed its military muscles in the National Day celebrations, showing off two home-developed missiles in …
PATRICK LIN/AFP/Getty

The State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs referred to Taiwan as “Chinese Taipei” in a tweet Thursday — using China’s preferred nomenclature for Taiwan that recognizes it as a part of China instead of a separate country.

The tweet read: “The United States and Chinese Taipei collaborate closely to increase the participation of across the Asia-Pacific region, including through . Thanks for the exchange of ideas! .”

The tweet did not go unnoticed by members of Congress, scholars, and journalists.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) chided the bureau for using “PRC-sanitized terms,” in reference to China’s formal name, the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“Given the PRC’s relentless bullying, it’s more important than ever that the U.S. stands behind Taiwan. Using PRC-sanitized terms only encourages more coercion from Beijing,” he tweeted.

China expert Andrew Erickson, professor at the Naval War College, tweeted on Thursday: “Dear & , why is using the loaded PRC formulation of “Chinese Taipei”? In plain English, &—much more importantly—in , I believe the correct term is instead . , so why not use OUR words???”

Journalist Kyle Olbert tweeted: “Excuse me… “Chinese ?” Why are you using the ’s preferred name for ? More than 80% of people in Taiwan now see themselves as Taiwanese, not Chinese. ’s language should reflect that.”

The State Department told Breitbart News despite usage of the term “Chinese Taipei” to describe Taiwan, there is no change in U.S. policy, and explained it was referring to Taiwan as such since it was in the context of an event hosted by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), whose members refer to Taiwan as “Chinese Taipei.”

“There is no change in our policy. The United States remains committed to the U.S. One China policy, the Three Joint Communiques, and our responsibilities under the Taiwan Relations Act,” an official said in a statement on background.

“This agreed nomenclature allows Taiwan to operate with full member privileges in all APEC meetings, allows Taiwan to host APEC events in Taiwan and all other APEC economies, act as leaders or chairs in APEC working groups and other APEC fora, and ensures Taiwan the ability to initiate work proposals and shape APEC economic policy,” the official said.

Taiwan is a democratic success story, a reliable partner, and a force for good in the world. We support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations that do not require statehood, such as APEC. In organizations that require statehood for membership, the United States supports Taiwan’s meaningful participation,” the official added. 

It is not clear, however, what the State Department’s policy is when it comes to tweets, and whether it is necessary to adopt APEC nomenclature when tweeting. 

China launched an aggressive campaign earlier this year demanding that international airlines that operate in China — including four U.S.-owned airlines — describe Taiwan or its capital Taipei as part of China and not a separate country. Despite pushback from the White House, all American airlines complied with China’s demands.

China has also bullied three small nations into cutting diplomatic ties with Taiwan since 2016, with the latest being El Salvador. Beijing also pressured Burkina Faso and the Dominican Republic to cut ties with Taiwan, leaving the nation with 17 formal diplomatic allies.

China also reportedly bullied GAP after it produced t-shirts that had a map of China but did not include Taiwan or Tibet, forcing the clothing company to apologize and cancel the t-shirts.

Taiwan has had a separate government since 1949, when Chinese nationalists fled to the island of Taiwan after fighting a civil war with Chinese communists. Today, Taiwan is a thriving democracy.

But Beijing maintains Taiwan is part of China and has stepped up its campaign to diplomatically isolate Taiwan after the election of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party to power in 2016.

Although U.S. policy is to acknowledge China’s position, it is bound by law to support Taiwan with defense equipment against China, and maintains strong informal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

There is also strong support for Taiwan among members of the U.S. Congress, which passed multiple pieces of legislation last year to increase ties with its government and military. This week, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill authorizing the State Department to downgrade relations with or withhold aid money to countries that abandon Taiwan under Chinese bullying.

This story has been updated. 

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